Vehicle fuel prices, along with other essential fuels such as paraffin and gas, are in for a significant hike from midnight tonight 2 February 2021, adding additional pressure to long over-stretched household budgets in South Africa.
Daily school run coming up again
The price increases also coincide with the lifting of a number of COVID-19-related restrictions announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday night 1 February 2021. Among the restrictions which have been lifted, are those which banned access to beaches and other public recreation areas and the prohibition of both on and off-site sale of alcohol. Curfew regulations have also been relaxed.
In addition, and with some private schools having already reopened for the 2021 academic year and public schools and then tertiary education institutions set to reopen in a matter of weeks – ordinary households will be bracing for an increase in daily travel, accompanied by a steep increase in costs.
All dressed up with no fuel to go
And with South African’s freedoms having been restricted by the national government’s measures see-sawing from the mild to the severe for almost an entire year, citizens who can afford it can be expected to reclaim and exercise their liberties as soon as possible.
But much of this is heavily dependent on travel, which in turn is naturally now more heavily dependent on fuel costs.
With the retail price of petrol to rocket by 82 cents a litre and diesel by 58 cents per litre at the stroke of midnight, South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources and Energy would be hard pressed to find a motorist who is not looking for fuel savings and strong painkillers for the financial pinch at the pumps.
And with no silver bullet expected to be making its way to the country to save what’s left of the economy, vehicle owners and businesses will be forced to take a smarter approach to ensure that people and products make it from A to B in a far frugal and fuel efficient way.
Petrol price for February 2021
The following changes will take effect from Wednesday 3 February:
Petrol 95: increase of 81 cents per litre;
Petrol 93: increase of 81 cents per litre;
Diesel 0.05%: increase of 58 cents per litre;
Diesel 0.005%: increase of 59 cents per litre;
Illuminating Paraffin: increase of 59 cents per litre.
Here’s what you can expect to pay for fuel (price per litre):
At the coast:
So, how to reduce your fuel consumption?
The first and most obvious solution is — take a walk, ride a bicycle or catch a bus or taxi and then walk some more.
Frivolities aside, a search on the internet will produce some ambitious figures and opinions related to fuel savings in financial terms.
One of these is based on a vehicle with a 60-litre tank.
“Filling up a 60-litre tank with fuel costs more than R800. Assuming you fill up almost every week, say, 48 times per year at R900 per tank; if you can cut consumption by 40%, that’s R17 000 you save per year.
“A tank that normally gets 700 kilometres, if you cut fuel consumption by 40% – not easy, but possible – will get almost 1000 kilometres,” reads advice from one well-known South African insurer.
But in an economy in which citizens moves on the back of a huge fleet of small passenger vehicles with smaller fuel tanks, there is much merit in considering basic motoring practices which will have a positive impact on fuel use and spend.
Make a habit of these fuel-saving tips
Car condition: A vehicle which is regularly serviced and well-maintained will burn less fuel. Vehicles can use up to 30% more fuel if proper maintenance is not performed on a regular basis. Therefore, ensure your car is serviced regularly and that items such as worn spark plugs, worn rings, faulty injectors, sticky brakes, low coolant levels, dirty oil, and dirty filters are all addressed. These, if not addressed, lead to engine inefficiency and consequently, increased fuel consumption.
Tyres can take their toll: Check your car’s wheel alignment because uneven wheel alignment causes more friction and your vehicle then uses more power to bring your vehicle into alignment while traveling. This in turn results in higher fuel consumption. Check your tyres for underinflation which will increase rolling resistance and increase fuel use.
Cool down your aircon usage: Use your air conditioning only when absolutely necessary. The aircon unit places additional load on an engine and is notorious for its effects on fuel consumption.
Load shedding: Save fuel by reducing the weight your vehicle is hauling around. This can be obviously done by removing unnecessary items you may have in your vehicle. Fuel is also heavy, so unless you are undertaking a long journey, try city driving with just a half a tank of fuel or less at a time.
Speed and rapid acceleration are no friends of fuel: Like fuel-sapping vehicle air conditioning systems, speed may be a thriller, but it’s also a fuel consumption killer. The faster you drive, the faster you will use your fuel. Taking it easy will make it easier on your fuel use.
Drive smart: Where ever possible, avoid stop-starts and maintain momentum whenever you can by thinking and looking ahead. Try to maintain a flow with moving traffic and improve your timing and approaches to hills, traffic lights and crossings.
Get geared for savings: Travelling at the lowest speed in the highest gear that traffic conditions and the road allows for – without labouring the engine – will take your fuel efficiency further .
Use in-built tech: In a world of high-tech innovations, even on the most basic of vehicles, there are settings and mechanisms which could help to optimise your car’s fuel efficiency. Use them.
Route planning: Optimise both your fuel consumption and your time by carefully planning ahead. Running errands in a coordinated, well-thought out sequence can create significant fuel savings. What’s the rush? Avoid peak traffic times and other rush hours and you will save on both fuel and vehicle maintenance.